Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg

The ruling from Arizona’s highest court reinstating a near-total ban on abortions has catapulted the issue to the forefront in a 2024 swing state that has absorbed an influx of independent voters.

On Wednesday, after weeks of mounting pressure, the Republican-led state House of Representatives voted to repeal the law. The Senate, which also has a GOP majority, is poised to pass the measure and send it to the Democratic governor to sign.

The action showed how high the stakes are in Arizona. Donald Trump, who has taken credit for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, had said the law went too far. It also weighed on the minds of independent voters, whom Republicans try to court through issues like migration and the southern border. In the Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll released this week, independents in Arizona said that on abortion, they trust President Biden by 12 percentage points over his GOP rival.

“I don’t see a world where if abortion is the top concern for independent voters that it’s a good night for Republicans – no matter what’s done to mitigate it between now and November,” said Brian Seitchik, Trump’s Arizona state director in 2016 and regional political director in 2020. “Any time we as Republicans are not talking about inflation and the border, we’re losing.”

And the influence of independents has only grown since 2020. To capture Arizona’s prized electoral votes, one has to win Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Those choosing not to identify with any party are outpacing new Republicans and Democrats respectively by nearly two to one, according to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

Arizonans’ politically independent nature – a libertarian streak, some say – goes back decades to state champions like Republican US Senators John McCain and Barry Goldwater. Biden won independents over in 2020, the first Democrat to win Arizona’s presidential contest this century. And voters in 2022 selected Democrats Katie Hobbs and Mark Kelly to be governor and senator.


To appeal to this core bloc of independents, Democrats must maintain a focus on the abortion issue, which also blunts conversation around the border and inflation. The move this week by some of the state’s Republicans attempts to dislodge it as an issue. The repeal would mean Arizonans will be able to have abortions until 15 weeks of pregnancy. That was the case before their court reinstated the 1864 restrictions, which was able to occur because the US Supreme Court in 2022 took away the nationwide right to the procedure.

As one independent voter illustrates, the abortion ruling didn’t automatically mean a vote for Biden. Ray Kimball is one of the thousands of new Phoenix-area residents who, after arriving in late 2022, declined to pick a party affiliation after being a lifelong Republican. He hasn’t decided on a presidential contender yet.

His reaction to the abortion law is “complicated,” and he’s “still working through it,” said the 50-year-old Army veteran.

At the same time, supporters of a measure that would enshrine the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution say they already have more than enough signatures required to get it on the November ballot. That could help drive the turnout of women. In Arizona, abortion is now the most important issue for three in 10 Democratic women, surpassing the economy, according to the Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll that surveyed voters in the period mostly after the April 9 ruling.

The same poll showed that Biden has ground to make up. Respondents said they would choose Trump over him by 7 percentage points, and 65% said the state’s economy was going off the wrong track.

The perception underscores the drawbacks of the state’s post-pandemic boom. The number of people who moved there since 2020 – nearly 200,000 to the Phoenix metro alone – dwarfs Biden’s margin of victory of just 10,457 votes.


The desert drew the interest of advanced manufacturing firms looking for plentiful and affordable land near large cities, setting the stage for new employment. Now, Arizona has more manufacturing jobs than before the pandemic. Companies can’t fill posts fast enough. And while business groups are trying to train local people for positions related to chip manufacturing, workers recruited from elsewhere are finding it tough to find affordable homes.

Arizona “just got behind” in building different forms of housing, said Sharon Harper, chief executive officer of commercial real estate firm Plaza Companies. “So that’s got to really ramp up. We need it all.”

Another potential wrinkle for Biden in Arizona: Of the seven swing states, it’s home to the most new Republicans.

For Republicans, tapping discontent over migrant crossings is a key strategy. Here, however, Arizonans defy easy categorization.

It was one of Arizona’s own – independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema – who helped lead the bipartisan US Senate bill that addressed the crisis. Arizona business and civic leaders ranging in political leanings were enthusiastic about it. But it collapsed under pressure from Trump, who said he didn’t want to give Biden a victory.

So far, Democrats have been better organized compared to Republicans, said Mike Noble, a nonpartisan political researcher and pollster in Phoenix. Trump, mired in unprecedented legal troubles, canceled a January Phoenix trip for a court appearance and has yet to visit Arizona this year.

“Biden was just out here, they’ve been rolling out coalitions, putting machinery in place, whereas Republicans are behind the eight ball,” Noble said.

With assistance from Alexandre Tanzi, Gregory Korte, Kelsey Butler and Allan James Vestal.

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